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Mary Minerva (Hill) Dunn

As Published by
Chapman Publishing Co. in Chicago

    MRS. MARY MINERVA (HILL) DUNN, of Ashland, is the widow of the late Patrick Dunn, a pioneer of prominence, and a much esteemed citizen, whose death, July 29, 1901 was a cause of general regret.  A daughter of Isaac Hill, Mrs. Dunn was born in Sweetwater, Monroe county, Tenn. She comes of Revolutionary stock, her great grandfather, Abner Hill, who was of English ancestry, having served as an officer in the Revolutionary war. Her grandfather Joab Hill, a native of Virginai, was colonel of a regiment in the War of 1812, and afterwards settled in Tennessee, where he owned and managed a large plantation.  Going from there to Missouri, he located near the town of Athens, and there spent his remaining days.

    Born and reared in old Virginia, Isaac Hill moved with his parents to eastern Tennessee, later going to Missouri, residing there about a year.  Removing from there to Iowa, his home was near Dubuque for about two years.  Subsequently, with a brother from Missouri, and his mother, he came with ox-teams across the plains to Oregon, arriving in Clatsop county, Ore., in the fall of 1849.  The following winter he built a mill on Clatsop plains, which he operated for a few months.  Crossing the mountains to California in the spring of 1850, he was engaged in mining in Yreka and Humbug, remaining in Siskiyou county about one year.  Starting east for his family in 1851, he went through the Rogue River valley, where he was attracted by a fertile tract of land that he decided to take up at a later time, but when he returned to the valley he found it had been taken by Patrick Dunn, whom his daughter afterwards married.  Leaving Tennessee with his family February 14, 1852, Mr. Hill proceeded by water to Alexander, Mo., and thence to near to Oskaloosa, Iowa, where he purchased a traveling outfit, including three wagons, and about fifteen yoke of oxen.  Subsequently buying one hundred head of cattle in Iowa, he started across the plains April 14, 1852, for Oregon, taking the old Oregon trail.  With great foresight he had previously secured from an eminent physician of St. Louis a medicine chest, and a prescription for cholera, which proved so effectual in curing incipient cases of the dread disease on the journey that he was called by the company Dr. Hill.  Arriving in Marion county October 14, he spent the winter in Salem and in the spring of 1853 came to the Rogue River valley by the Indian trail.  Taking up a donation claim, he improved a farm, and embarked in the dairy business.  During the first summer, he milked forty cows, made cheese and butter, receiving for the latter $1 a pound, while salt sold in 1851 and 1852 for $16 a pound.  During the Indian war that followed, he served as captain of a company, and was twice obliged to keep his family at Fort Wagner, the refuge of the settlers at that time whenever the Indians became hostile.  He had a large ranch of six hundred and forty acres, and was actively engaged in its management until his death, from cholera, in 1864.  He was the first man in the Rogue River valley to raise tobacco.  On his original claim is located the Hill Soda spring, and the Hill Butte.  He was a Democrat in politics, served as justice of the peace many years, and was a member of the Baptist Church,
    Mr. Hill Married Elizabeth Fine, who was born on the French Broad river, in North Carolina, September 11,1806, and died in Ashland, Ore., at the age of seventy-three years.  She was a daughter of John and Mary (Lee) Fine, and a cousin of Gen. Robert E. Lee.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Lee were natives of Virginia, and Mr. Lee was a soldier in the war of 1812.  Mr. and Mrs. Hill became the parents of six children, namely: La Grande, who came to California with the forty-niners, and died, in 1886 in Ashland, Ore.; John who was accidentally drowned in the Misouri river, at Omaha, in 1852; Cicero, a merchant who died in December 1902 in Portland; Mrs Martha Gillette, of Ashland; Mary Minerva, now Mrs. Dunn; and Ann Haseltine Russell of Ashland.
    February 23, 1854, on the Isaac Hill donation claim Mary M. Hill was united in marriage with Patrick Dunn, one of the early settlers of Ashland.  Born in County Wexford, Ireland, March 24, 1824, Mr. Dunn came with his parents to America and was educated in Philadelphia, Pa.  His parents, Patrick Sr., and Jane (Toole) Dunn, removed with their seven children, of whom Patrick was the youngest child, from Philadelphia to Illinois, and settled on a farm near Edwardsville, where both spent their remaining years. In 1850 Patrick Dunn, excited by the wonderful stories regarding the gold discovery in California, started for the Pacific coast.  Joining the miners on the Salmon river, he nearly lost his life from starvation and exposure the following winter, the campers being snowed in, and for many weeks cut off from all supplies.  As early in the spring as he could possibly get over the mountains, Mr. Dunn came to Oregon, locating in Jackson county.  Taking up a donation claim of four hundred and eighty acres, about four miles south of Ashland, he improved one of the finest and most productive farms in this part of the state. With his neighbors he took part in the Rogue River Indian wars, and on one occasion while going with a party to interview a few Indians commanded by Sambo, of "Old Jo's" band, in order to make a treaty if possible, he received a severe wound in the shoulder, from the effects of which he never fully recovered.  Mr. Dunn was very successful in his business operations, acquiring a handsome property.  In addition to his home ranch he also owned five hundred acres of land just above his homestead, and a large interest in the Jackson County Land Company, and he also owned an extensive ranch near Lakeview.
    Of the union of Mr. and Mrs. Dunn five children were born, namely: Mrs. Elizabeth Van Sant, of Ashland; Mrs Amy Willetts, whose death occurred in Jackson county in 1883; Ottilla, wife of Stewart Caldwell of Ashland; George W., living on the home farm; and Mrs Ella D. Rice of Ashland.  Politically Mr. Dunn was a steadfast Republican, and filled many places of responsibility and trust with credit to himself, and to the honor of his constituents.  In 1854 and 1855 he was a representative in the territorial legislatre; in 1864 he was county assessor; in 1872 he was elected county clerk; and he also served as county commissioner.  Fraternally he was a Mason, belonging to the Blue Lodge and the Royal Arch Chapter.  He was buried in the Ashland cemetery with Masonic honors, the services at the grave being conducted by Ashland Lodge, of which he was a member.  Mrs. Dunn belongs to the Jackson County Pioneer Association, and the Oregon Pioneer Association, and is a member of the Presbyterian Church.  Like her husband, she is a strong advocate of the principles of the Republican party.

Last updated by William P. Russell onSunday, 10-Feb-2008 15:46:50 MST